740.0011 European War 1939/9077: Telegram

The Minister in Yugoslavia ( Lane ) to the Secretary of State

191. I discussed Department’s 3950 with Prince Paul today. He was apparently unfamiliar with situation and asked me to see Finance Minister.51

As to clarification of Yugoslav foreign policy Prince said he had three alternatives, [(1)] join Tripartite Pact and allow German troops to pass; (2) attack Germany or Italy; (3) do nothing and allow country to be surrounded.

As to (1) he said Yugoslavia would not sign pact with military clause permitting occupation of country. Yugoslavia will fight rather, than accept such conditions. “We are not Rumania, Bulgaria, or Hungary.” He agreed that signature of non-aggression pact would be first step to loss of independence.

As to (2) this would be folly, as apart from making Yugoslavia the aggressor, army leaders who are “soft” oppose taking offensive.

[Page 956]

As to (3), this may be only possibility remaining as both Croats and Slovenes opposed to fighting for Salonika especially since no attack against Yugoslavia has yet been made.

He hopes President understands Prince’s difficulties. He asked me what I would do if I were he. I replied, “Refuse every German demand”. He said that no ultimatum had been received, but Germany is continually requesting adherence to Tripartite Pact.

When I asked him definitely what he would do he said he did not know as decision would depend on what Germany does. He realizes no German promise can be trusted.

  1. Dated March 15, 3 p.m., p. 954.
  2. Jure Sutej.